It was with great enthusiasm that I ventured into the fascinating new world of social network advertising. A lead-generation-addict by heart, Facebook advertising became the love of my marketing life. And this is the story of a marketing love relationship gone bad.

The social networking hunting grounds were completely virgin market to me in early 2006. Having spent some years out and about frequenting numerous social networks, I realized about 18 months ago it was time to get serious. Get down to the nitty gritty, as they say.

Since lead generation is close to my heart, I initially decided to test my /advertising/ skills on popular social networks to see if I could score myself some leads.

But not just any kind of leads. I wanted good looking leads. Prospects who had the potential for a real, long lasting relationship. And since quite a few people had come to expect of me to take the medicine I teach, what was more natural than to pick a banner advertising fight most people said I couldn’t win.

Challenging the skeptics
I decided to challenge the many skeptics by choosing a social networking platform known for its leading position amongst consumers. One that many claimed would have no real role in a business-to-business marketing context.

My hunting ground became Facebook. My message was a B2B message. My expectations were low. But, boy, did the lead generation through Facebook advertisements over deliver. In fact so much so that in some cases, my team and I were able to acquire qualified B2B leads at only a fraction of what we would pay elsewhere.

After running numerous Facebook advertising campaigns in some 20 countries over the past 18 months, we were enjoying a great relationship with Facebook. But similar to human relationships, which in my experience tend to get more expensive as the relationship deepens (!), so did my relationship with Facebook. It went from excellent to good. From good to bad. And very quickly from bad to unacceptable.

So we are very close to a divorce these days. I am definitely seeing other online advertising platforms. But so far without much luck. Banner blindness seem to be a common disease in most markets, click-through-rates are appallingly low and the quality of the leads we hunt equally poor.

What best describes Facebook Advertising in one word?
Expensive ! But it wasn’t always like that. I have seen per lead B2B acquisition cost go from as little as € 0,15 to as much as € 5,00 – all using the same message, in the same language, to the same target audience with the exact same conversion rate. And in many markets. I have experienced advertisements for paid marketing events increase in cost per click from €0,09 per click to €0,40-0,60 – all within a short period of time.

Colleagues of mine have tested other social networks. Linkedin seems to be out of the question unless you only consider the spend side of your budget and don’t mind paying gazillions for leads.

Now just because my business relationship with Facebook and other social networks didn’t work out, does not mean that you cannot find value in advertising there. You’l have to test to learn if any advertising media can bring the value you are looking for.

In a new article I will give you my top three learning’s from social network advertisement experimentation. To get it sign-up for The Mind-Box right here – it is free